Seoul has architecture like Tokyo, 1000 old temples like Beijing, and a fast paced tempo like New York.
5 days, 4 nights in Seoul is not enough time to check out the temples, night markets, and the colorful traditional villages. Seoul is an eclectic big city with plenty of bibimbap, soondubu, and bugolgi to satisfy even the biggest foodies. After a big meal, take a walk around the Gyeongbokgung palace, the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty which serves as a major tourist spot present day.
Be Right Back, Going To North Korea
Once you step foot into South Korea, book a DMZ tour. The DMZ is the demilitarized zone established by the Korean armistice agreement to serve as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. Out of the tours, make sure you book a DMZ tour where you have the chance to go to the JSA which is the joint security area, where the North and South forces stand face to face. To put things in context, this is where the North and South Korean leaders recently met and shook hands. Just to note, the tour will take a long time. What was interesting is that you’ll see a brand new train station ready to open to bring passengers from South Korea border to Gaeseong, North Korea. This pleads to the fact that South Korea is ready for unification!
Tour Agency: DMZ and JSA
Try this Korean Grandma’s Mandu (Korean dumlings)
Hidden in an alley, this traditional Korean restaurant has been here for decades and is a local favorite. This Korean grandma, or better called, “haleomi”(grandma in Korean) makes out of this world mandu, and all very reasonably priced at 10,000 KW. Don’t be scared by the all Korean menu. Get the mandu and you will be satisfied.
Address: In between Sejong-daero 20 gil, Seoul and Sejong-daero 22 gil.
- Might be a bit tricky to find given its location at the end of an alley. It is near the New Seoul Hotel, who should know the address. You will pass the hotel, pass a restaurant called, Simwon, pass another restaurant called Taejin Charcoal Fire Ribs, then you will arrive. No English in Seoul makes it hard!
I Think I’m Turning Korean
Rent a hanbok, a traditional Korean outfit at HANBOKNAM and go explore the temples! The hanboks are super comfortable and will keep you warm in those winter months. The dresses rent for 10,000 won for 1.5 hours, or buy the whole day for 30,000 won. You’ll see many other foreigners wearing them around the temples. If you are lost, don’t ask someone wearing a hanbok because they are probably foreign!
Address To Rent: 109 Sogyeok-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Work Off That Bibimbap
National parks are usually really rare within a city. However, Bukhansan is situated on the Northern part of Seoul, and has three main peaks: Baekundae, 836.5 m (2,744 ft), Insubong, 810.5 m (2,659 ft) and Mangnyeongdae, 799.5 m (2,623 ft). Little did I know how serious of a hike this was. It takes five hours one way from the bottom to the highest peak. You’ll see local Koreans decked out in colorful hiking jackets, walking sticks, and vibrant hats. Koreans love their hiking!
Where: Bukhansan National Park
Rest Your Sleepy Head
Myeondong is the heavily dense shopping area of Seoul. You’ll find eclectic street food, bargain makeup stores, and tea houses. Hotel 28 is apart of the “Small Luxury Hotels of the World”, so you know you can trust staying here would be a good decision, Each floor is cinematic themed with film-inspired artwork. Gives a snazzy feel! A little bit of East meets West.
Stay: Hotel 28 Myeondong
Address: 13 Myeongdong 7-gil, Myeongdong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, 서울특별시 South Korea
What Else To Know?
- For nightlife, you need to get a taste of the epicenter of late night parties. Go to Itaewon, which is where you’ll find all the clubs and bars. This area attracts a lot of foreigners as well as locals. Think rowdy and this is it.
- For a classy drink, head to D- Bridge lounge in Gangnam. Gangnam is the “socialite” district where you may bump into your favorite K-pop stars. Here, a single drink could cost you $25.00
- For a Korean spa experience, go to Dragon Hill spa which you’ll find jade rooms, salt rooms, and clay rooms. This is the secret to Korean skin.
- For a Soho NY type shopping experience, go to Insa-Dong and get brunch at Cafe Able.